As the 2020 election approaches, candidates have had to adapt how they campaign amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Politics shifted to keep up with the ever-changing state of the world.
Patricia Lock Dawson, a candidate for Riverside mayor, reshaped her campaign to comply with COVID-19. The campaign trail, which once was dependent on rallies, fundraisers, meet-and-greets and door-to-door interactions, has changed to largely social media networking.
“All of the normal channels have been put off right now,” Dawson said. “We have had to be much more creative with messaging and finding ways to connect with voters.”
She said she faced some challenges with campaigning during COVID-19 because she could not showcase herself as a candidate as easily due to restrictions. She also said that COVID-19 has reformed the status quo of politics and changed the mindset of many ordinary voters.
“The stakes have never been higher for competent, effective leadership,” Dawson said. “It is about who has done more and who can take us into the future and who can deal with adversity by seeing opportunity in it.”
Dawson said it is important for young people to use their voices and vote. “Know your power, and do not ever take that for granted,” Dawson said. “You can live your purpose through your vote. You can enact change through the power of voting. Do not wait for somebody else to fix something.”
Aliza Purificacion, freshman pre-nursing student, is a first-time voter in the upcoming election. She believes strongly in the power of democracy, and the importance of new voters to participate.
“It is important to realize what is going on in the world instead of just ignoring it,” Purificacion said. “There are so many people who do not realize voting is very important and can affect the future.”
As a result of the pandemic, the 2020 presidential election has expanded its mail-in option for those who may not feel comfortable voting in person. California is sending every registered voter a ballot, but it is also opening polling locations from Oct. 31 to Nov. 3.
“Informed participation is a vital part of our democratic process,” said Chase Porter, assistant professor of political science. “For this election in particular, if you intend to vote early or by mail for health reasons, make sure to be very aware of processes and deadlines. You do not want your vote to not count because of a missed deadline.”
Porter said COVID-19 has changed the course of this election since candidates have expressed different ideas about how to solve coronavirus-related issues. He compared and contrasted their different approaches, noting a Kaiser Family Foundation poll that found that 20% of voters considered COVID-19 to be the most important deciding issue in terms of casting a vote.
“The Trump campaign has started holding large campaign rallies again, while the Biden campaign has focused on much smaller or virtual events,” Porter said. “A POLITICO article from Aug. 4 noted that the Trump campaign claimed to have knocked on one million doors during the previous week, whereas the Biden campaign claimed to have knocked on zero. The Trump campaign is using more traditional campaign tactics, whereas the Biden campaign is leaning much more heavily on technology to the campaign.”
According to the California Secretary of State website, mail-in ballots must be postmarked by election day, and it must reach the election office within 17 days following the election.